Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers: What to watch for

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15: Ezekiel Elliott
ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 15: Ezekiel Elliott /

After a bad loss at home, the Dallas Cowboys host the Green Bay Packers with an opportunity to go into their bye on a good note. Here’s what to watch for.

When you’re a team struggling to find its identity, the last thing you want is to try to right the ship against Aaron Rodgers.

Yet, here are the Dallas Cowboys, fresh off of a home loss to the Rams with the Green Bay Packers  coming to town.  Of all the opposing quarterbacks for this team to face this week, no other option could be worse than Rodgers.

If you didn’t know any better, you would swear he gets extra satisfaction from personally tormenting the Dallas Cowboys.

Dallas has lost six of the last seven games against the future Hall of Fame quarterback.  Two of those six came in different but equally disheartening ways during the playoffs, ending the

Cowboys’ season.  Another was so embarrassing a head coach lost his job immediately afterwards.

While neither of those scenarios are in play today, it is paramount that the Cowboys solve this problem.  That’s especially true if they want to avoid heading into their bye with a losing record.  Here’s what to watch for in this pivotal matchup between two of the better teams in the NFC:

  • You can basically forget about Rodgers having a bad game.  He has thrown two or more interceptions in just three games since 2015.  Even in those games, Green Bay still won two of three.

The best way to beat him, however, is to frustrate him, especially with a pass rush.  In the three losses Dallas has handed Rodgers, they sacked him a total of nine times.

The good news for Dallas is that Rodgers is facing a lot of pressure in 2017.  Currently, he’s been sacked 15 times in four games.  With both of his starting offensive tackles questionable for this game, Dallas must get to him at least three times.

  • As if the task of stopping the Green Bay passing attack was not hard enough, Dallas will likely have to do so without linebacker Sean Lee.  Lee will almost certainly sit out this game to allow his hamstring heal over the bye week.  Dallas must be better, especially with their linebackers in coverage to offset this loss.

Last week, Jaylon Smith had a horrible time in pass coverage against Los Angeles.  Smith is not entirely to blame as he’s more of a run stopper at that position but the Cowboys need to fix this issue.  Whether defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli employs some exotic looks or puts more defensive backs in coverage, Dallas will have to focus on improving the pass defense today.

  • If ever there was a time for the Dallas Cowboys rushing attack to come alive, it would be today.  Green Bay is 19th in the league against the run, while not facing any big time running backs.  This offense desperately needs to get the run game going for their own confidence.  The defense could also look a lot better if they did not have to defend so many plays.

We all know about their opponents and the level of talent along their front lines.  Those excuses will not work today.  If Dallas cannot find a way to successfully run the ball, this could be a lot bigger issue moving forward.

Lastly, can this team put together a complete game?  In every game but the atrocity in Denver, the Cowboys have put together stretches of good play.  They just have not been able to maintain them.

In order to beat a team led by Aaron Rodgers, you have to be on point for the entire sixty minutes.  If Dallas can play like they did in the first half against the Rams and the second half like they did in Arizona, they will win.  If the exact opposite occurs, the will lose.  It’s just that simple.

Next: Dallas Cowboys must return to playing unselfish offense

I want to believe that the Dallas Cowboys will win this game.  Unfortunately, I just don’t know if this defense is ready for the level of quarterbacking they are about to see.

The prediction: Packers 31, Cowboys 27.